Stormers leave their Asia ‘arrogance’ behind as Sunwolves pose serious threat in historic Hong Kong Super Rugby clash
Robbie Fleck admits his side have expected wins to just happen against the Japanese unit in the past, but that won’t be the case at Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday
Stormers’ coach Robbie Fleck says the “arrogance” his side have displayed in previous clashes with the Sunwolves will be a thing of the past as Super Rugby comes to Hong Kong for the first time this weekend.
While the Stormers have posted big wins over the Sunwolves in South Africa, their two trips to Singapore – where the Sunwolves host a number of home games each season – have netted a draw and a tight 44-31 victory.
Fleck expects his side to be contending with the best Sunwolves side they have faced in their clash at Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday, with the Japanese outfit fresh off a dominant 63-28 win over the Queensland Reds.
“I think the last two years when we have come over [to Asia] we have been a little bit, dare I say arrogant, and we think it’s just going to be one of those things where we work through the game and we win it,” Fleck said.
“But we understand that they are very much a different side and they are a difficult opposition. The way the Sunwolves have played in their last two games certainly shows how far they have come. They have only won one game but they are a better side than they were in the last two years.
“There is a lot of respect there and we are going to have to be very smart in the way we play against them.”
Already there has been plenty of talk about the impact the Hong Kong heat will have on the clash, with Sunwolves coach Jamie Joseph suggesting the big-bodied South Africans will struggle.
“I think he’s right,” Fleck admitted, before countering that a backline featuring Damian de Allende, Raymond Rhule and Dillyn Leyds is not to be taken lightly.
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But it’s not attack that has been an issue for the Stormers this season and with their season on the line, Fleck knows it is important his side build on their improved defensive effort in last week’s 15-9 loss to the Chiefs.
“We don’t want to look too far beyond this game but we do our homework and it’s going to take another 20 points to qualify [for the quarter-finals],” Fleck said.
“That was last week and we lost that, only got one point from that so we are going to have to do as much as we can this week.
“It’s a tough conference but it is certainly not over for us, it’s going to go to the death. If we lose this game then we are gone,” Fleck added about a Stormers side that is bottom of the South African conference but only one point off second spot.
Despite the high stakes it won’t be just about the game for the Stormers this week, with Fleck encouraging his charges to enjoy being in a new environment.
“It’s important that we enjoy Hong Kong and our guys get to enjoy a new city,” he said. “Rugby is rugby but it’s important that the guys get to enjoy a new culture and experience something different.”